The following is an excerpt of my book-in-progress. If this resonates with you or you find it interesting, please do let me know. I’m working hard to craft a memoir that is vulnerable and evocative and it’s helpful to have affirmation along the way. For context, the section prior is The Body I Did Not Touch.
Mr. Andrews must remain in the appropriate category, and this requires intricate mental maneuvering. My conscious mind will not acknowledge Mr. Andrews as an object of desire and yet my subconscious knows and is desperate to distract me.
I am trained to feign monogamy of attraction and reason that I cannot focus my sexual energy in more than one place at a time.
And so I settle my attentions on Friedrich, a classmate of good German stock who cries often and hates himself for it. Periodically, in times of great emotional upheaval because of a girl, Friedrich threatens to haul off to some far off region to spend his days as a celibate missionary, living in rugged, wild manliness in the service of our deity.
No one in our class appears to think this is odd. We all know the deity’s ways are not our ways, and that he may call us to be his light to unbelievers in desolate places across the sea. He may decide to keep us single all our lives, devoted to him alone. But we know, deep down, that this is good even if it hurts. Our god is good. He knows us better than we know ourselves. He discerns our desires and most intimate thoughts even while we remain estranged from ourselves. He will give us the true desire of our hearts: himself.
My interest in Friedrich is kosher. He is single, godly, and cisgender male, which are the only criteria needed to put anyone in the potential husband category. And this is the only acceptable category. Only the deity knows who I will marry, but I know it is not his will for me to waste myself on flings that have no chance of coupling me to a godly man till death do us part.
But even though Friedrich ticks all the right boxes, I am ill at ease. I’ve liked boys–lots of them–since age seven, but I’m still not used to this divine love triangle. Truth is, until I get married, I don’t know that he is The One that the deity has for me. And so I’ve got to operate on the assumption that he’s not.
For if I fall in love with Friedrich or anyone else, what then? What if it’s not the deity’s plan? The pain of disappointment is doubled by shame. I lose the object of my love while the deity looks on with scorn, shaking his head and muttering to himself, “No patience, this one. Now I’ve got to start all over again.”
I know that my god is good. His thoughts are not my thought and his ways are not my ways. If only I could make myself conform to his ways. Then maybe, just maybe, he wouldn’t have to keep starting from scratch with me.
I finish out my summer classes tripping on the oxidizing acids of Bible commentaries, drowning in textual euphoria by day before sinking into melancholic nights.
My starlit walks around campus are humid and scratched with the sounds of crickets. I sit on the bench overlooking the black pond and feel afraid of things I cannot name.
At the summer’s end, I pack my bags for Oxford. I don’t know what to expect from the study-abroad program, but I know what it means to me. It means I will not have to see my father or go to any family gatherings for some time. I will not have to face Grandpa Nick. Where I am going, they cannot follow me.
While I am gone, Dad will move into an apartment across town and my parents will put the house on the market. And I will wander in a far off place where no one knows the taste of my skeletons.